By Jan Janssens
Lotto-Domo: Robbie McEwen and Co.
The Lotto-Domo team is lacking a serious GC contender, so
they put their eggs into the basket of their fast man from Down Under, Robbie
McEwen. A two-time stage winner during the big Petacchi-show last year, he
should be able to repeat that effort. The Aussie has been lacking (well,
relatively speaking of course) in wins so far this year and had some physical
problems, but he’s been consistently riding strong nonetheless. McEwen gets his
faithful lieutenant Nick Gates along, and other work horses like Christophe
Detilloux, Aart Vierhouten and Ief Verbrugghe. Youngsters Gorik Gardeyn (24) and
Gert Steegmans (23) are both fast men, and it will most probably be their task
to get into early breaks and/or position McEwen into a good sprinting spot.
However, the fact that the team is mainly built around
McEwen doesn’t mean that there aren’t any riders with climbing skills in the
Lotto team! Ginger-haired Christophe Brandt is still a bit inconsistent but is a
very decent climber, so he could be expected to be seen in a break in the
mountains. Last man to fill the Lotto roster is Polish rider Piotr Wadecki, who
had a bad season last year and will probably be looking to prove Patrick
Lefevere wrong for letting him go. A solid time-trialist and a decent climber,
Wadecki should be able to show something nice in this 2004 Giro!
Robbie McEwen. Courtesy Lotto-Domo.
Chocolade Jacques: Rebels
with a Cause
With undisputed team leader Dave Bruylandts out, the
Chocolade Jacques team comes to this Giro a bit disoriented. Without the Flemish
rider, the Jacques boys are
actually without a GC rider or a sprinter! So,
they lined up a very diverse and youthful team, with colourful riders like John
Gadret (25, French national champion cyclocross). They hope to be able to pinch
a stage or two with a guerrilla mentality: attacking, attacking and more
They certainly have some riders that can surprise their
opponents, like the young and talented Ukranian duo Denis Kostyuk and Maxim
Rudenko, both looking to gain some strength in a GT. Especially Kostyuk is a
good climber. In fact, the Jacques team has quite a few riders that know how to
climb: seasoned warrior Geert Verheyen, and young(er) guns Jurgen Vandewalle (Bel),
Aragana Andoni (Spa) and Mauricio Ardila (Col).
Dutchman Jan Van Velzen and Frenchman Florent Brard will
be looking to get into breaks in the flatter stages, if the Pettachis and Cipos
of this world allow them to, of course. Brard faded away a bit in the last two
seasons, but is still a decent rider with great TT
To summarize: Chocolade Jacques seem to have every sort of
rider covered, except for a sprinter or a GC rider...
With its combined climbing talent and lack of real team orders,
we can expect some nice things from the team once we hit the mountains. They
might not be the orange spitfire of attacks that Euskaltel is, but hey. And who
knows, maybe Gadret pulls off a “Cadel” this year?
Geert Verheyen. Photo by